A lot of recent UK and US political events have made me feel ashamed to be a member of Western culture: the prejudice which has abounded, in many cases seemingly unchecked, is a frightening confirmation of how selfish, arrogant, and downright despicable humans can be. I sometimes feel like yelling “Just because we have a dark side doesn’t mean we have to indulge it!”
But it’s not just the big things, is it? It’s the little things as well: the repeating of “facts” without checking them first; the spouting off an opinion about historical events without reading up on them first; the “I’m not racist, but…”
It’s draining. And I keep getting the feeling that this is just the beginning…
So, what can we do? We fight, of course. We keep doing everything we’re doing now, as much and as often as we can, even if it’s just insisting on everybody’s right to continued existence.
At the same time, and coming round to the reason I started this post, in any fight it is always useful to know about the opposite side’s tactics. So therefore I’ll drop a quick link in to this post, about the use of Big Data to personalise messages in both the Brexit* campaign, and Trump’s presidential campaign. If you don’t have time to read a lengthy article, it has been summed up here in a series of tweets by @J_amesp, but the article does link to sources as well.
I read the first article a few days ago, but held off on sharing immediately as I’m wary of falling victim to confirmation bias – I’m often accused of paranoia when I explain why I don’t install many apps on my phone; why I uninstalled the Facebook app over 2 years ago; why I deleted my old Livejournal accounts last month when I learned that LJ is now hosted on servers located in Russia… But at the same time, if I don’t share the article, how can I ask opinions of people who know more than me, who understand more than me, and who I damn well wish I could still sit round a pub table with on a Friday afternoon!
And then there was another article, on a different topic, but no less concerning – shared by author Dorian Dawes with the comment “This is a remarkably accurate portrayal of the mindset of what we are fighting and how this ideology spreads. Many of my friends don’t understand or believe me when I talk about this stuff, but I was brought up in this exact kind of environment. I know how these people operate.”
Two points I’d like to make related to that article: I don’t believe that homeschooling is bad per se, but there should be as many checks on the content and quality of education for these children as for children experiencing any other form of schooling; and while I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone as extreme as those described in this article, I have struggled for decades to understand how people think they can call themselves “Christian” when they have travelled so far from the fundamental teachings of Jesus (and yes, the news this week about the CofE’s continued prejudice doesn’t help, and makes me want to swear whilst shouting at them about why do they think church attendance numbers keep falling)
Apologies for length. Thanks to anyone who read through it all. These are the things which are bothering me, as well as the news you see in the headlines.
*sidenote: I hate this word. It’s as ugly as the concepts the campaign embodied.